Teams all around the world are asked to consider the proposition of working from home. Governments, and their endless challenges with the economy and social-distancing, are also finding their grounds to drive a new norm of distributed workspaces, having its teams to work remotely; that work-life integration is indeed possible.
Over the years, teams have quickly realised the importance of working closely in groups. With the advent of social distancing that is breaking up the very nature of our social practices, teams and groups are yet again challenged to work as far apart as possible and to think that technology is the answer to our divide.
So what can we do as teams to stay productive in this new norm? I had to find the answers by asking our members on how they managed to remain apart and yet maintain the same level of productivity when they were working in a room together. Their approach to usher in the new norm was very much experimental, suited for a time faced with constant change.
One team shared that they made it a point for all team members to wish each other “good morning” before 8 am, as a way to report in their status for the day. This was often done on WhatsApp so that every posting by each team member would be time-stamped, thus allowing themselves to self-police each other. It is almost like a non-verbal roll-call every morning to amp up the team for the day, so everyone starts on the same footing.
My team gets on a Zoom call every morning. We labelled this human gathering of ours – Social 15, where we would take 15 minutes every morning to share what we are going to do to for the rest of the day. But before that, one of us would ask a random question, and everyone would take turns to share their experiences. We thought it was a great way to start the morning with a fun mental warm-up before we begin our work.
Now, another member shared that he got his trusted managers to come up with daily goals with their subordinates, and to report in their progress at the end of the day. Standup meetings are a frequent practice for them and would have as many as three standup meetings throughout the day with their respective managers. This approach not only helped them build trust but also prevent the rest of the organisation from slacking away at home.
When it comes to online tools used to track tasks and collaboration, most teams use Asana, Slack and Trello to get the job done. For example, my team is using Asana to track our responsibilities and to collaborate throughout the day. It has different management mode like task listing, kanban and even a simplified version of a project timeline, which are all great ways for us to plan, track progress and collaborate virtually.
In conclusion, there are many ways to maintain effective collaboration amongst distributed teams that are working remotely. While not denying the fact that we are still social creatures, and sometimes it may be much easier to meet up in person to discuss a problem. Zoom call will not replace the experience of collaborating physically in a room with a whiteboard marker at hand. Still, we can always find creative ways to work together online, using tools and different virtual team coordination strategies to maintain productivity while we all work remotely in teams.
Richard Ong is the author of Mindsets and Core Purpose. He is deeply passionate about the future and the people in it. He is also a business coach and keynote speaker, with multiple IBM Bravo and Performance awards. He was met by Prince Charles to discuss his entrepreneurial efforts in Malaysia and was featured on national radio.
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